How does relative humidity affect our music?

Winter is here in the Northern Hemisphere, so things are changing both outside and in.

Last week I posted a thread because I cleaned my current CD player for the first time using an old Milty CD Lens Cleaner that I found when I rearranged my CD rack. I thought, and still think, that perhaps one or more pieces of the brushes broke off and were still on the lens. The music wasn't a precise as it was before, and I was fearful that I'd damaged the laser with the cleaning.

Another thing that was noticeable was a very significant amount of excess bass. That didn't make any sense to me because I couldn't see how anything like a laser misreading would increase the bass like that.

Now I'm wondering if the excess bass might be a result of low relative humidity in my room. I checked it and it was 30%. I pulled the humidifier off of the shelf in the garage and set it up between the living room and dining room but couldn't even get the humidity up to 40%, so I went and bought a second one for the back part of the house. Now I have the relative humidity up between 40%-50% and the bass sounds fine.

My question is: was it the lack of humidity that caused this problem and if so, why? Did it affect the sound waves traveling through the air? Did it in someway dry out the absorption panels, making them more reflective instead of absorbing as they normally do? I also noticed that my sinuses were congested due to the change in the weather, so was it just my hearing?

Has anyone else noticed this, or have any thoughts on this?

Since humidity changes the density of the air, its a pretty safe bet that transmission of sound waves formed by differences in air pressure will vary somewhat as humidity varies. The question will be how much different and whther significant enough to make a difference or not.

If you can do controlled listening tests where you are able to control the humidity and do some sort of objective listening test, you are probably in the best position to determine if in fact it is worth worrying about or not.

OF course, it can be hard to set up such tests properly where any changes heard are accountable to a specific dependent variable, like relative humidity. What if barometric pressure is significantly different? That could have a similar effect.

But relative humidity having some effect on sound is certainly a possibility FWIW, I would say. Not sure how much sleep I would loose over it though.
Chuck I think these are helpful. I've noticed a differences in the sound at different temps and humidities.

Would think humidity affects wood pulp speaker cones. I know humidity changes affect wooden musical instruments and gut strings.
Aside from the atmospheric change, does your CDP still sound "off?" Is there any way to see the laser module on your unit?
I may be wrong, but I don't think humidity will have that much of an effect. A couple of things do come to mind, though. The first thing I would check is your speaker cables. If you biwire, maybe one or both of the cables going to the high frequencies became disconnected somehow. Also, check them to make sure they are wired in phase.

Another thing it could be is warm up. Its different for each piece, but some components need a very long time to warm up. Several days in some cases.

You may also want to check your IC's. Its possible that you may have broken a connector when you were moving stuff around.


It's sounding clear again after I used the compressed air lightly on it. I'm still a slight bit bass heavy, but I can't get the relative humidity much above 40% right now.

When all of this happened, I hadn't move anything around, and I leave the system on unless we're having really bad weather.

I know that different tweaks like the Acoustic Revive RR-77 supposedly do things to manipulate the air or air molecules which has an effect on the sound waves. I do have wooden panels in my room as well as the absorption panels too.

The increase in bass is just something new to me and I'm trying to figure out how to tame it.

Everyone have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Dryer air is more dense than moist air because diatomic N and O is replaced by H2O which is lighter. Truncation of sound as it travels through air is frequency dependent with higher frequencies more greatly attenuated. THe more dense the air, the greater the truncation.

Hard to believe the above is accounting for the entirety of your experience.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Given we can enjoy this hobby as we do, we have much to be thankful for.
Worrying about marginal things in particular that one has little control over normally probably negatively affects our ability to enjoy the music more than that thing itself.

I say just put the right gear combo in place for enjoyment, and then actually focus on enjoying what it delivers, and thinking about how the humidity is affecting things or not will become a distant memory.

If you were married to a supermodel, would you spend the time enjoying the splendor of her beauty, or fretting about whether a new boob job is needed or not?
Many house experts warn against raising the humidity above 40% in the winter so one does not develop a mold problem. My system sound best when I keep the humidity 35-40% and I use a humudistat to measure the level.


I agree with you, except in my case the bass was overwhelming and overpowered everything else, and I have monitors no less!

" in my case the bass was overwhelming and overpowered everything else"

Of course room acoustics is likely a much bigger culprit than humidity, but if humidity is easier to control and has the desired effect, then case closed.

I notice your speaker placement is fairly close to walls and corners as well, which almost always leads to the most bass, FBOFW.


This is what I don't understand, nothing changed in the room. I also have a humidistat like David.

All I did was:

Use the CD Lens Cleaner
Turn on the furnace because the temperature dropped



Thanks, I didn't know about the possible mold if the humidity rises above 40%.

Chuck, maybe after using the cleaning disk and the compressed air, you now have a clean lens and are hearing the true sound of your system. Just a theory.

Tweaking speaker location even just slightly, or even possibly toeing in tweets towards listening position, might be easy ways to adjust the tonal balance as needed if not spot on as desired normally for whatever reason, humidity or otherwise.

That's normally what I end up doing if things sound off over time for whatever reason. Nothing stays exactly the same for long usually. Too many things can change. Humidity, barometric pressure, temperature, state of mind, acuity of hearing, which is often related to ability to focus. There are many reasons that might account for why ones ability to focus the same way is not a constant day in and day out.

Unfortunately, its not possible to control everything, but not so hard to make certain minor tweaks like adjusting speaker location/orientation if needed.

If things then head or remain south for an extended period of time, then perhaps more serious corrective actions may be in order. Electronic devices are like people, they do not always perform consistently day in and day out or over teh very long term.

"Happy Thanksgiving to all. Given we can enjoy this hobby as we do, we have much to be thankful for."

Amen to that, brother!
My wife and I built the most energy efficient home we could build in 2000. It is sealed and well insulated and need an air exchange system to remove moisture. We built with the intention of being as close to net zero as possible and worked with firms that had energy and health in mind. I prefer our home at 50-60 percent humidity.

Mold is a result of a leaky or less than well insulated envelope. If the building is tight and properly insulated, there will be no condensation in walls, around windows, etc. Mold loves air flow and condensation. Most states, and I am in MA, have contracted firms that conduct energy audits, paid for by a small tax in your gas or oil bill. These audits are free and cheap and will provide, at least in MA, something like $2000 per year in insulation and envelope tightening.

Krell_man, I like listening in the winter because I find all the windows to be closed and any street or wildlife noise to be gone. That's as far as I've gone and don't think I recognize a difference based on humidity. That said we stay between 50 and 60 percent year round.

I agree with both Lowrider57 and Mapman.
Mold does not like air flow. Most mold found in a home is the result of improper ventilation. A bathroom that 3 people shower in that has no mechanical ventilation has mold. Add a exhaust fan of proper cfm's vented to the exterior and you will have no mold.
My biggest problem with humidity on the CT shoreline is that nothing made of metal lasts longer than 10 years. Everything pitts in this shoreline environment. I have to take extra precaution to use metal coatings to prevent pitting in even the best aluminum. One of the trade offs of living near the water. I haven't been able to detect any sound difference but the humidity changes so gradual it would be a difficult process.
Improper ventilation is air flow.
Get a Venta air cleaner works great better sound.
I own a Venmar. I think it's a great unit.
To back up slightly I agree with Zenblaster that moisture without ventilation can cause mold. My point was that air leaks where condensation occurs is a major cause of mold. Also improper insulation so the dew point occurs in the building is a major cause.

Be well, and mold free.
What type of heating do you have? Is your furnace electric? If so then maybe the current draw of the furnace is the culprit?

Mind you, I hear the difference in humidity in the air, generally in spring when you get the first hot humid days and there is rapid change in humidity from one day to next. I find that the change from summer to fall to be more gradual and thus less noticeable.


I have a natural gas furnace.

I'm experimenting with the speaker position right now, as Mapman suggested.

How is the furnace vented? In other words intake and outtake, or is there just outtake? I find this subject interesting because sound passes through air and air changes, or the room changes with humidity in it. Humidity even changes structures, like that door that doesn't close as well in the summer but is perfect in the other seasons.